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February 8, 2021
Chapter News

Philly Pioneers Affordable Housing for Parkway Protestors Experiencing Homelessness

By Steve Baron | Urban Design Committee
Photo Caption: Anthony Lloyd, a resident of the homeless encampment on the Ben Franklin Parkway challenges the city’s order to clear the camp. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

During the summer of 2020, hundreds of tents lined the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — a live-in protest of people experiencing homelessness advocating for affordable housing.

When the city swept away the tents in October 2020, occupants and organizers achieved a first-in-the-country solution: setting up a nonprofit organization and community land trust that is set to manage 50 empty properties given by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and manage two tiny house villages. [1]

Philadelphia has a major homelessness challenge: about 5,500 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night, and another 47,000 people are on the waiting list for public housing. [2]

Already, the Philadelphia Housing Authority is developing hundreds of affordable housing units, such as the Sharswood neighborhood redevelopment project [3]. The federal government also recently extended the nationwide eviction moratorium through March 31, and Congress has allocated $25 billion in rental assistance. [4].

Still, given the complexity of affordable housing, especially amid the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, housing advocates are pushing for a comprehensive housing strategy. By more thoroughly integrating government planning with community engagement, all stakeholders can have a meaningful role in the affordable housing process.

Works Cited:

[1] Goodin-Smith, Oona and Lubrano, Alfred. “Philly’s housing deal with occupants of Parkway homeless encampment seen as ‘unprecedented’ nationwide.” Philadelphia Inquirer. 14 October 2020.

[2] John-Hall, Annette. “A Historic Deal on Affordable Housing in Philly.” The Why: WHYY. 20 October 2020.

[3] “Sharswood Blumberg Neighborhood Transformation Plan.” Philadelphia Housing Authority.

[4] Hepburn, Peter and Panfil, Yuliya. “The Black Hole at the Heart of the Eviction Crisis.” The New York Times. 28 January 2021.

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